Honiara, Solomon Islands, 1 September 2021 – Solomon Islands has received COVID-19 vaccines from the Government of Japan this week through the COVAX Facility – a partnership co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), with UNICEF as the key delivery partner.
The 56,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured in Japan, will contribute towards fully vaccinating more than 414,000 vaccine eligible Solomon Islanders by the end of 2021.
Japanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands, H.E. MORIMOTO Yasuhiro, handed over these vaccines to the Government of Solomon Islands in an official ceremony held at the Henderson International Airport. In attendance at the handover ceremony were Ministry of Health and Medical Services Hon. Minister, Dr. Culwick Togamana, and Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Pauline McNeil, Chief of UNICEF Solomon Islands Field Office, Dr. Zelalem Taffesse and Officer in Charge, WHO Solomon Islands, Dr. Simon Burggraaf.
“The Ministry of Health is currently rolling out COVID-19 vaccines across the provinces, with only three out of the 10 provinces remaining for launch and rollout to all eligible persons 18 years and above. Coupled with the fact that the majority of the population resides in the provinces, the Ministry is very grateful for this timely support as it will contribute to the stock of COVID-19 vaccines available for the Ministry to roll out to these provinces,” highlighted Ministry of Health and Medical Services Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Pauline McNeil.
She extended her thanks also to the support rendered by Japan towards the Ministry’s overall COVID-19 preparedness and response including medical equipment and consumables as well as commitment of Japan for further support in terms of logistics.
“Thank you so much Japan and I would also like to thank WHO and UNICEF for the partnership with COVAX Facility, which has enabled the smooth movement and safe arrival of the vaccines into the country.”
Japanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands, H.E. MORIMOTO Yasuhiro, in his remarks during the arrival of the vaccines, explained that the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines was a fulfilment of Japan’s Prime Minister H.E. SUGA Yoshihide’s commitment to support the Pacific Island Forum countries with three million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
“This ceremony this afternoon is a fulfilment of this commitment and I am grateful that Solomon Islands through this arrangement is receiving 56,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Japan. Thank you to the COVAX Facility including WHO, and UNICEF for supporting its shipment and delivery to Solomon Islands,” said the Ambassador MORIMOTO.
H.E. MORIMOTO Yasuhiro also expressed sincere appreciation towards the Government of Solomon Islands, under the leadership of Hon. Prime Minister, Minister of Health and the Ministry of Health in collaboration with other local, regional and international partners for the job well done in preventing a community transmission to date.
“We thank the Government and people of Japan for their commitment to the COVAX Facility that ensures equitable access to vaccines in the world, including the small and geographically dispersed population in Solomon Islands,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “UNICEF would also like to acknowledge the Government of Solomon Islands’ public health leadership. We will continue to strongly support these efforts in keeping children, their families and communities, safe.”
Officer in Charge of WHO Solomon Islands Office, Dr. Simon Burggraaf, highlighted an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Pacific Island countries such as Fiji and French Polynesia. “Therefore, the donation of the vaccine doses by Japan to Solomon Islands is very generous and will preserve the health and lives of the people should there be a community transmission of the virus.”
Dr. Burggraaf added, “There are now numerous vaccine effectiveness studies that have analysed the performance for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, including studies showing protection is retained and is high against serious outcomes of Delta variant COVID-19. Studies have demonstrated that the effectiveness against hospitalization due to Delta variant with two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine remains over 70 per cent as well.”
As vaccines are now rolling out around the world, they should complement, and not replace, proven public health measures. Solomon Islands, like other countries, will continue to apply tried-and-tested measures to successfully prevent and control transmission, such as physical distancing, masks, ventilation and hand hygiene, alongside robust programmes to test, trace, isolate and treat.
COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. The ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to boost the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access to every country in the world.
In ensuring the safety and efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine has undergone rigorous clinical trials and safety assessments to ensure it meets the highest level of safety standards.
Notes to Editors
List of donor pledges to the Gavi COVAX AMC is available here.
Interactive funding tracker for the ACT Accelerator, which includes details of funding for COVAX, can be found here.
Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services
Atenia Tahu: +677 7478857, ATahu@moh.gov.sb
Embassy of Japan in Solomon Islands
Yoko Asano: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Zelalem Taffesse: email@example.com
Zubnah Khan: +679 9988137, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren O’Connor, WHO, Tel: +679 7779733, email@example.com